Immigration protests continue in Tampa and throughout Florida by Mitch E. Perry04/10/06
Thousands of Floridians are taking to the streets,joining demonstrators nationwide to rally for immigration reformâ€¦.A crowd estimated to be between 1500 and 2000 gathered alongside Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, one of 14 scheduled protests in the Sunshine state urging lawmakers to help illegal immigrants settle legally in the United States.
Police estimate about five-thousand people marched in the working class coastal city of Lake Worth today, about 60 miles north of Miami.
Hundreds of people also marched in front of the federal courthouse in Pensacola carrying American, Honduran and Mexican flagsâ€¦..and about 65 people gathered in front of New College in Sarasota in support of reform of immigration laws.
Also today, high school students in Plant City walked out of classâ€¦â€¦News of the time and location for these rallies in some cities have spread in some cities thru Spanish radioâ€¦ But a St Petersburg resident named Robert said Today (Mondayâ€™s) rally was communicated in Churches throughout the Bay Area over the weekend (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?going on right nowâ€?)
The protests for the past few weeks have been riveting â€“ but are they really reflecting public opinion? Not according to a new poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, which shows that 61 percent of the country disapproves of President Bushâ€™s handling of immigration issues, which includes support for a guest worker program.. But a young woman named Jessie criticized President Bush for not sticking to his plans for immigration reform back in his first term, which was reflected in his meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox in his first year in office â€“ before September 11th (roll tape#2 o.q.â€?giant leap backwardsâ€?)
Jessie is the daughter of immigrants who came to this country and worked as seasonal farmworkers for many years.
There were plenty of flags present during the protest â€“ representing both Mexico and AND U.S. The display of Mexican flags has become a flashpoint among critics of the demonstrations, and organizers in some cities across the country have reportadley lobbied the demonstrators NOT to display themâ€¦.But that wasnâ€™t the case in Tampa. This woman, who wouldnâ€™t give her name, said she thought it was fine to display the Mexican Flag (roll tape#3 o.q.â€?thatâ€™s not rightâ€?)
That same ABC News/Washington poll shows just 21 percent say the United States is doing enough to keep illegals out, while 75 percent say it's NOT doing enough.
Pollsters say those disproportionate numbers are consistent above the board - with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, and most liberals, moderates and conservatives alike, in agreement that the government isn't doing enough to keep illegals out.
The intensity of this view, moreover, runs high â€” a majority of Americans, 56 percent, feel "strongly" that the U.S. isn't doing enough to prevent illegals from gaining entry to this country.
Across the street from Columbus and Dale Mabry, in front of a Burger King, stood a handful of counter protestors who carried American flags.
John Hendrix is the organizer of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Minutemenâ€¦He doesnâ€™t buy the notion that illegal immigrants are the only people to work at low wage jobs (roll tape#4 o.q.â€?who shouldnâ€™t be hereâ€?) the South with her parents, depending on where the work is.